Exercises for lower back pain


When an episode of low back pain lasts for more than six weeks, it becomes highly crucial for the patient to consider back pain exercises and physical therapy for treatment.

Aims of Exercise

Exercises for back pain are aimed at strengthening the muscles in the back, stomach, hips and thighs. Overall, there are two main purposes of taking up exercises for lower back pain. These are:

i)        To help cure any ailment or disorder arising out of lower back pain

To strengthen your back muscles and remain generally healthy and active in daily life

The Exercise Regimen

To achieve full recovery, it is important to maintain a regular regimen of exercises. This is extremely significant in order to restore the strength of your back and ensure a gradual return to everyday life.

It is recommended that you devise a schedule wherein you exercise for       at least 10 to 30 minutes, once to thrice a day.

Body structure

The back is made up of numerous muscles, which help the body in performing all the crucial physical activities. The three main muscles that make up the back are the Latissimus dorsi, the Trapezius and the Rhomboids.

The main functions of these muscles are to pull the arms back, down, towards the body and help rotate them inwardly. These functions get impaired with lower back pain and require a properly planned physical therapy to regain control.

The Exercise Modalities

There are two broad types of therapy modalities for physical therapy for the purpose of lower back pain. These include:

A) Active physical therapy

B) Passive physical therapy

Here we briefly explain each one of them.

A) Active physical therapy

Active physical therapy is extremely important to rehabilitate the spine. To get effective results, a generalized back exercise program should include the following:

i)        Stretching for back pain exercise – Simple hamstring stretching is very important to avoid and cure lower back pain in daily life.

ii)       Strengthening for back pain exercise – For this purpose, it is important to do 15-20 minutes of dynamic lumbar stabilization or other prescribed exercises.

iii)     Low impact aerobic conditioning – Low impact aerobics, such as walking bicycling or swimming should be done for 30-40 minutes at least thrice a week. The ideal way is to do these on alternate days form the strengthening exercises.

B) Passive physical therapy

In cases where exercise is either too painful or otherwise not possible, the therapist may consider passive therapies. The main forms of passive therapy include:

  • Heat/ice packs
  • TENS units
  • Ionophoresis
  • Ultrasound

Other exercises

There are various other stretching, weight-training and miscellaneous exercises that help alleviate lower back pain. A few of these include:

  • Ankle Pumps
  • Heel Slides
  • Wall Squats
  • Straight Leg Raises
  • Single Knee to Chest Stretch
  • Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Piriformis Stretch
  • Lumbar stabilization exercises


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